FilmLab for Android 0.2 release notes

Since the FilmLab Kickstarter campaign ended, I’ve been keeping my head down, working away at the FilmLab preview releases, which are being used and tested by Kickstarter backers. I have not, however, been doing a good job updating this blog. So I thought it would be a good idea to start posting updates about beta progress here, so anybody who’s interested can follow along.

Our story so far: In early August I shipped FilmLab 0.1 for iOS and Android. Getting a basic Android version of FilmLab up and running felt like a major accomplishment, since my prototype had been iOS-only. But there was still a lot of work to be done to the Android version to get it fully caught up to iOS. In September I released version 0.2 for iOS, and then set to work on the equivalent 0.2 release for Android. This time around I wanted to make sure I took the time to get the Android build fully caught up to iOS, so they can be equals going forward. There was a lot of work to do, and I had a lot to learn, but version 0.2 for Android is finally being released to testers today.

FilmLab 0.2 for Android release notes

I’m very happy to introduce FilmLab preview version 0.2 for Android! This update includes a lot of improved technology under the hood, and also has some new features that I hope will make FilmLab more useful to you, even in its current incomplete state.

WHAT’S NEW

Camera initialization, speed and autofocus - I’ve tried to fix the issues some people were having with slow frame rates, lack of autofocus, or complete camera failure on certain Android devices. However, I won’t know for sure how successful these fixes are until this build gets tested on lots of different devices in the wild. If the camera doesn’t work, runs slowly, or doesn’t focus, please let me know right away and I’ll see what I can do to fix FilmLab on your device!

Manual Crop/Perspective tool: Now you can manually adjust the part of the image you want FilmLab to capture. This will let you fix things when FilmLab doesn’t properly detect the frame you tapped on, or do creative things like combining two half-frame images together. To use the crop/perspective tool, first capture or load an image, and then tap the crop icon on the toolbar. To adjust the area being processed, drag the corners. To save your adjustments, tap the crop icon again. This tool still needs work, it’s a little jumpy and hard to make fine-grained adjustments for now, but it does get the job done in a pinch.

Rotation tool - rotate your captures! This is an Android-first features, I haven’t added it to the iOS build yet.

Flip tool - flip/mirror captured images (helpful if you scan an negative with the emulsion side up). Also a feature that’s coming first to Android! None of these have been optimized for speed yet (they’re working on the full size image instead of one that’s been resized for your device), so they’re slow. This will improve in future builds.

Device orientation / rotation support: Now you can rotate your device without breaking the FilmLab UI. Yay!

Raw support. If you’re using a Android device that supports raw capture, FilmLab will capture a raw DNG and use that as the source for adjustments. For now, the only difference this makes is that your image won’t have as much noise reduction and smoothing applied to it, and will have slightly better dynamic range. Future builds will add support for combining multiple raw captures to reduce noise and improve resolution.

Improved JPEG support. For devices that don’t support raw, FilmLab will attempt to dial down the smoothing applied to JPEGs to keep more detail in the image.

Zooming in captured image: You can pinch to zoom when viewing/editing an image. However, you can’t yet drag to pan around in the image, so this is of limited utility. A better zoom-and-pan implementation will be coming.

Negative mode all the time: Previously, the camera would switch between positive and negative mode as it tried to detect what was in the scene. But since positive/slide film isn’t actually supported yet, this only made things worse. So for now, I’ve made it stay in negative mode all the time, which feels a lot better. Full support for positives will be added in a future build.

Requests permission for saving - now FilmLab will ask permission the first time you try to save an image, so you no longer have to manually turn the permission on in settings.

KNOWN BUGS AND ISSUES

  • This build doesn’t include any improvements to frame detection.
  • Camera doesn’t yet show a live preview of detected frames.
  • Black and white film is still being treated as color film.
  • Positive/slide film isn’t yet supported.
  • Positive to negative conversion is overexposing highlights.
  • Crop/perspective tool UI still needs work.
  • Capture happens without checking for whether the image is in focus or not, so it’s possible to capture an out-of-focus negative.
  • Output is still limited to 8-bit JPEG, even if raw capture was used.
  • Manual control over film type, exposure, contrast, and color balance isn’t implemented yet.

The 0.1 and 0.2 beta releases have been pretty huge, involving many weeks of works and lots of major architectural work under the hood. Now that the core app infrastructure is up and running on both iOS and Android, I hope to be able to move to a schedule of smaller, more frequent beta releases moving forward. Thanks again to all the Kickstarter backers who supported this project, and who are helping test the beta builds!

-Abe